Thursday, October 1, 2009

Southeast Review Writer's Regimen Day 1

I'm taking a 30 day writer's regimen course. I won't be posting the assignments as Southeast Review has respectfully requested that we don't duplicate the assignment, but I will be posting my writing that comes from the assignments.

Writing Prompt Assignment:
"I jumped, fell and stood. Repeat."

Reading Writing Assignment:
When they were new, they had this intoxicating smell; slightly sour, musty and sweet. I would bury my face in the folds of their neck and breathe in till my lungs were full. I’d pause to exhale and go in for another hit. Time passed and the smell lessened and lessened until one day I couldn’t seem to get my fix no matter how deep I breathed. Then—sometimes years, sometimes days—later I catch a ribbon of the smell as they scamper past me and out the door on their way to some adventure. My breasts tighten and my uterus contracts. I have to sit for a second because I miss the babies that were swallowed up by these little children. The longing dissolves into laughing when I see them through the window, outside riding their trikes and grass-staining their socks on dew-soaked lawn. The blinds make indentations in my hands from pressing up against them as I watch. I remember what it was like without them and it makes me feel a hollowness in my stomach. It’s an unsettling feeling that I fill back up with echoes of their giggles, the memories of fevered nights: years of motherhood. I look down at my softened body: the lines, the indentations; the body I gave to them. Most of the time I miss what it used to be but at this moment, it makes me proud. And later, at night, one under each arm, I sing them to sleep as their heads cut off circulation and send pin-pricks down my arms into my fingertips. Then there’s no regret; only the passion of a mother’s love.

Riff Word Assignment:
He had this aura about him. I squinted and widened my eyes over and over wondering if it was a glare from the fluorescent lights. Man-Made Light Glare or vibrations of his spirit? It was beautiful and purple-blue, the color of lilacs.

Monday, July 27, 2009

100 pages

Cheer with me as I celebrate hitting the one-hundredth page in my novel! I've already completed two rewrites and I'm sure there are countless rewrites to follow, but can I just say: it's fun to hit one hundred.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

For Abby

They introduce her by the shortened version of her first name. How odd, I think. They do not even know her. Listening to her speak I think her genuine; her voice has a musical quality with a hint of smoker's rasp. I buy her books and put them down in front of her to sign. She holds a cigarette in one hand, a tattoo on her forearm. As she writes I wonder how this nice old woman came to have an inked lizard on her arm. I'm thinking of starting my memoir, I say. She scribbles words of encouragement. I shift my weight, uncomfortable in the role of groupie. Later I see her curled up, barefoot on a brown wicker chair with an orange cushion. She looks at the sky as if it belongs to her.

They hail her, speak of her, talk as if they were close to her. They call her, "our own." Pathetic.

I bump into her once more; outside the barn. She is smoking, I am putting something in my car. She smiles at me with one crooked front tooth in an otherwise perfect mouth, her turquoise ring the width of two fingers. That night even my friends abbreviate her name. Ridiculous.

It is three weeks later. I have finished the books with her Best Wishes written sloppily on the title pages. The way the words were shaped and sculpted on each page has changed me. Tonight I sit on a deck chair, barefoot. I look at the sky as if it belongs to me. And now, I know.

When I met her--before--I shook her hand. If I met her now--after--I would throw my arms around her, thank her for the beauty her words have brought to the world. Maybe I'll see her again someday. If I do, I'll call her Abby.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Viral Marketing for Writers

When I was at the Writers at Work conference someone (I think it was Julianna Baggott but it may have been Terrell Dougan) referenced this youtube clip as a way of grassroots marketing. This woman, Kelly Corrigan, author of The Middle Place, had a very soft opening for her book. But after that she made this clip she and attracted over 4 million hits, her book launched to the NYT bestseller list. I watched it out of curiousity and ended up thankful for my own group of friends, but also wanting to buy her book. Brilliant. And as an aside, I'm glad that 4 million other women out there have what I have with their friends, I'd be lost without it.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

I'm a baby writer.

Here I am, at my computer. My fingers are at home, safe. I've developed a writing bump on my finger from scribbling notes. I haven't had one of these (way chic) bird finger bumps since college when I sat under the giant maple tree on campus and wrote faux beat poetry. It's been awhile.

I've spent the week soaking in this world. Some of it I love (the readings, the panels, open mic, Julianna Baggott, Abby Thomas, Eileen Pollack). Some of it I hate (Heated POINTLESS debates about religion, Arrogant people). I'm being taught, (by brilliant litearary minds) but mostly I'm being humbled (I'm not a brilliant writing prodigy? Are you sure?).

In some ways I feel old, like my proverbial ship has sailed. The time for becoming a writer, getting fancy degrees that declare me to be literary, and philosophising about weather or not to include religion in my writing has passed. Destined for the writer's cemetary and only twenty nine!

Another realization I have had this week is that...wait for this one ready? it is: I am not a great writer. Sad. Everyone take a moment and shed a tear. I am ambitious and I know how to write lovely little words but inasmuch as becoming a novelist is concerned I-- my three readers-- am a baby writer. An infant who cannot speak, walk, talk or even communicate in this world. In my writing I am the following: Overly sentimental. Cliche. Dishonest to reality. Manipulative. Clueless as to how to write a novel. I could go on and on and on.

I am a "very talented writer" and can paint a pretty picture made of words, shaded with images and tinted with characters, but pretty pictures aren't real. To be real and great I'm going to have to grow up.

Yes, I am a baby writer. And it sucks.

P.S. If someone chooses spike leopard print heels over chaco's can they really be a writer? Sigh.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

My fingers are dancing on these keys!

In twenty-two short hours from now I will be immersed in my craft for an entire week. I'm going to do nothing but write for hours on end without children luring me away from my keyboard by being irresistable, without goodreads distracting me with engaging conversations, without a husband wanting to bond with me over a plate of nachos and a great DVD. This week is devoted one hundred percent to my dream of a career as a writer and launching myself into its grasp. Today, I'm giddy.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

"I am addicted to adverbs," she said desperately.

Help. I'm addicted to adverbs. I'm doing much better with curbing them in my novel, but I use them in excess in my every day life. That's what we dramatics do, emphasize everything. -LY -LY -LY. I love them truly, madly, deeply, hopelessly, endlessly.

I'm in big trouble.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I loved this...

...little clip from Katherine Center (author of The Bright Side of Disaster and Everyone is Beautiful) Enjoy.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Never count anyone out.

This is an awesome clip. The embedding has been disabled so you'll have to jump over to youtube, and search "Susan Boyle" to watch it, but if Susan Boyle can be a singer, I can be a writer! Good for her- and me.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Artists and Moods

What, do you think, is the common denominator between artists? What is the one thing that links us all together into one solitary whole being? My mind tells me that it's moodiness. Artists are moody. We weave ourselves in and out of moods, dragging along unwittingly those poor souls closest to us. We plod through the mud of despair, we flit on the clouds of glee, we weep the tears of the world's heartbreaks- all in one day.

You will note that I am currently working on the sixtieth page of my novel. I have been for seven days. I've been so utterly depressed this week. I've trudged along through the string of days uninspired and hopeless. A stark contrast to my mood of last week in which I wrote sixty pages and where I informed everyone I encountered that, "I am so Zen."

A slightly silver lining tells me that I am suffering so that I will know my characters. Every thought I have links itself in some way to Lily and J.R. I know them better for my moods.

I guess the moodiness is necessary, a suffering for our art. Art is not free. It comes with a significant pricetag.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Practice makes Novelist?

When I'm not writing, I'm reading about writing. As of this very moment, my copy of Goldbereg's Writing Down the Bones sits lazily across my lap- sharing the space with my computer. So far, the main theme is to shut out the world and find the writer within. I need to do better at that. I am loving this book. It's very zen. The emphasis the author has put on one concept in particular has struck me, and that is the importance of practice via freewriting. It has been so long since I sat and practiced freewriting. I constantly carry hundreds of editors on my shoulders as I write. Everyone from my mother to my potential reader sits, metaphorically perched- adding their imput to all I do. Goldberg's theory is that it is your voice as a writer that makes a fine novel and that voice will only come through practice and most often freewriting. Maybe it's time to ask the critics on my shoulder to leave and return to the creative freewriting I did as a younger woman.

Natalie Goldberg: "It's good to go off and write a novel, but don't stop writing practice. It is what keeps you in tune, like a dancer who does warm-ups before dancing or a runner who does stretches before running...Writing practice embraces your whole life and doesn't demand any logical form...Think of writing practice as loving arms you come to illogically and incoherently. It's our wild forest where we gather energy before going to prune our garden, write our fine books and novels. It's a continual practice."

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Raining on my Passion Parade

You all know the passion I have for my writing. What a funny thing that I just expect everyone to feel the same excitement and passion about it. Today I have realized that people want to talk about other things. They also have lives outside of my writing. How dare the world rain on my passion parade?

Blissfully Tired

It's after 1 a.m. I've just finished my writing. I've spent the day reading The Writer's Market and Guide to Literary Agents (although the foreward is by Debbie Macomber, my arch nemesis). They motivate me to keep going! I finished 6 pages today! A very productive day. I just can't wait to tell this story!

Saturday, March 21, 2009


A fellow writer mentioned to me this week that she listens to the music that her character would listen to while writing. Tonight I decided to try it and it really does help. In the theater world, we would call this method acting. So I guess I'm method writing?

Thursday, March 19, 2009


My life as a writer has been interrupted this week. So much so that I have had not one moment to write this week. I, for one, cannot write with children present. It messes with my focus. I also can't write with my darling husband in the room, (Picture this: "What did you write now?...How about now?") This week Libby has decided to refuse her nap and instead screams bloody murder for an hour (or two). Her naptime is my usual writing time. And, as you may have surmised, ear piercing shrieks are not the best for writing. I've also had the distraction of having to read 2 books for various book clubs. So now, I'm set. The kids are going to bed at 7:30. The husband is camping. The books are (mostly) read. The creative juices are flowing. The muse and I are going to do some girl bonding!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Writing Group

Every writer needs a group, a place where they fit and where they can be safe with their words and their stories. Tonight I met my group. Over the past two weeks we've planted the seedlings of friendship in the soil of a shared love for the written word and tonight it was time to meet. I was so excited. As I read the first submissions this past week, I knew that I would be working with an overwhelmingly talented group of women. I feel inadequate to join them in beginning my maiden voyage into the waters of the writing world. I look forward to sharing our stories and becoming great writers together. There are kindred spirits among them. I feel it.

Bathing in Words

I am enjoying this immensely. I feel like I'm bathing in words, soaking in them, luxuriating. I have always loved words. Words are the tools we use to create emotion. We are judged on and by our words. When I write, I feel as if I am taking empty and hollow vessels and putting them together on the page to give them life and vigor. It's bliss.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Fact or Fiction

I'm getting a taste of what it's going to be like to have written a book that is FICTION based on a few facts. The people who know I'm writing are very concerned with how they are going to be portrayed in anything I should choose to write. I've tried to explain that while I am excited to delve into many different forms of writing, if I write a novel it will be a FICTIONAL account. They still feel the need to give me thier perspective, opinions and specific instructions on how to write. I get an ulcer thinking about what people will think when the book is published and they "cast" themselves as one of the characters.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Muse is back, Doug's not aMUSEd.

So much to my utter delight and complete relief, the muse came back. Last night. At 12:30 a.m. I made a cozy spot for her in the recesses of my brain and invited her for an extended visit. My husband growled and threw his head under the pillow in an attempt to drown out the evidence of her return, the clickety clack of my fingers on the keyboard. Today he asked me to remind the muse that she is a welcome guest as long as she respects the sleeping hours that we keep. I told him that she would love to, but muses biological clocks tend to cause their waking hours to be the hours in which the children are not filling up her accomodations- my mind. I reminded him that she is a very fickle guest and that we must do our best to make her happy. I also reminded him that we have had worse houseguests. At least she buys her own toilet paper.

The Muse flew the coop.

It was horrible. I was a mess. Writer's block isn't fun!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

My palms are sweating

I submitted my work for the first time. It was a 1500 word fiction submission for the W@W Fellowship competition. What a vulnerable feeling this is! I find that it is not unlike auditioning for a play.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

My first little leap.

Well, it's 12:36 a.m. I've finished my Fellowship Competition entry for the Writers@Work convention. It may be a gigantic waste of the $20.00 submission fee as I just decided to turn something in two days ago and it is by no means a polished piece. But as with everything in my life, I'm jumping in with both feet first and hoping I hit water. I am a writer now and this is what we do.

A new blog...

I set this blog up to chronicle my successes, failures and journey as a writer. I figured that readers of my personal blog probably have no desire to read my ramblings about pacing issues in the fourth chapter!